Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes

Two named WCA Coaches of the Year


December 13, 2018

The Wyoming Coaches Association recently named Thermopolis cross country coach Stephanie Metz and golf coach Joey Johnson as Coaches of the Year for the 2018 fall sports season.

This is Metz's sixth year with Hot Springs County School District No. 1, and she was an assistant swim coach before moving to Wyoming. She taught third grade her first year in the district, and during the past five years she has been teaching eigth grade math. One of the years she taught seventh and eighth grade math.

Metz was a middle school assistant track coach her second year working in the district, and stayed in that position for a total of two years. She became the head middle school track coach for two years after that, and this year she will move into a high school coaching role as the distance coach, as a high school assistant coach, while still getting to coach MS distance runners as well.

This was her second year as the head middle school and high school cross country coach.

As to her successes, Metz stated, "When judging the success of the programs, I look at a lot of different things, one of which is our numbers. The participation in middle school track and cross country have been awesome. I want students to stay active in whatever sport or activity interests them.

"I'm also looking at the attendance in our 5K runs. The cross country team has a goal to grow the 5Ks we put on for the community as a fun way to get out with family and friends on a Saturday morning. The Monster Dash we hosted in October was a huge success with over 50 participants, as was the St. Patrick's Day run last year, which were both new fundraisers we hosted. In addition, I'm incredibly proud of all the athletes that place in our championship meets, like State and Conference for cross country and Best of the Best for middle school track."

Her coaching philosophy is "modeled around the whole athlete. Not only do I want to train champions, but I expect them to be leaders for their teammates on and off the course as well. I emphasize the importance of hard work, grit and perseverance to all my athletes so they may emulate these characteristics in all facets of their life."

Metz further added, "Coaching is a very rewarding experience, and I was lucky to coach this groups of athletes. It was a tough season that required a lot of grit. The team had to pull together to get through some hardships, but they did just that. Coaching high school and middle school athletes together can be another challenge, but the high school athletes always stepped up to exemplify how to train and race like a champion. I could not be more proud of this group of athletes, it was an amazing season and I cannot wait to see what else they accomplish this year!"

Johnson began working and coaching golf for the district in the fall of 2018 with some reservation as he had never coached an athletic sport before. "Then I thought, I love golf; I've spent the last eight years taking my sons to junior golf tournaments and I have coached high school and college kids before, just in a different venue. So why not give it a try?"

He has always enjoyed working with youth. The first 19 years of his career he taught Vocational Agriculture and FFA and was a junior college livestock judging Coach for Northwest College in Powell from 2000-2004. During that time, he stated, "I had the distinct pleasure to work with some amazing youth and we took home ten State Championships in Livestock Judging, Horse Judging, Environmental and Natural Resources and in Agriculture Sales and Service in Wyoming and South Dakota, and we placed in the top 10 at eight of those national events at the National FFA Convention."

The highlight of his college coaching experience was winning the Second High Jr. College Team at the National Cattle Judging Contest at the Dixie National Livestock Show in Jackson, Miss., and coaching the National Champion High Individual in that same contest in the Spring of 2004.

"Working with the THS golf team this past fall will be an experience I will never forget," he stated. "For me, it's fun to get to know the kids, their personalities and how they interact with each other. This helps me find different ways to motivate each student on an individual level and on the team level. In my opinion, a coach of any kind has to find out what motivates their individual team members so that they believe in themselves and in their abilities. When you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I think our young group of men and women on the THS Golf Team realized that this year, and their successes on and off the golf course will continue to grow.

"I am honored to be named as the State 2A Golf Coach of the Year, it's something that I never even aspired too. One thing is for sure, it would not have been possible without the assistance of our local golf professional Donnie Bjorhus, members of the Thermopolis Golf Course that have encouraged and supported the THS Golf Team, and of course, the awesome group of THS students that make up our golf team. I look forward to the spring season."


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